Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Playtest Report

Optimism isn't my strong-suit.  I seldom find the silver-lining of the lemons that life gives me (or however that goes).  Still, one can try.

It appears that my Sunday Labyrinth Lord game has fallen apart.  It was a new game with only three of us, but I was quite enjoying it.  The Referee was running us in a setting that was heavily inspired by Vance's Lyonesse, which was nifty.  It was my first go at actually playing LL;  a little trickier than I expected, but only because we could never be sure whether we were remembering the actual rules or the B/X rules, which prompted more book shuffling than desired.  But still, fully enjoyable.  Gaming with three is always a perilous prospect; you are balancing on the knife-edge of being too light.  Alas, our third, a younger fellow to whom we were introducing the delights of old-schooling, suffered some unpleasantness in personal life and appears to have decamped my little postage-stamp of an island.

Undefeated, the now campaign-less Referee and I got together anyway and ran some test combats for Under the Dying Sun.  I had really wanted to do this for a while now because I hadn't been able to kick the tires of the One-Roll Combat System.  I was rather concerned that it might prove too hard to hit and hurt things this way.  Fortunately, that did not prove to be the case in our test runs.  Hits were coming pretty often actually, with my sword-slinging Slayer doing 6 points of damage on most hits.  Combat was brutal and to the point.

Only in retrospect did I think to do some statistical analysis on this.  If that sort of thing bores you, feel free to skip the rest of this post.

In B/X, a 1st level Fighter has a 50% chance of landing a hit  on an unarmoured opponent (assuming no bonuses from STR and so on).  In Dying Sun, weapon choice makes a difference so the comparison is a bit tricky, but let's try.  A 1st level Slayer has the following chances:
  • 72% with a sword (the best weapon against an unarmoured foe)
  • 58% with an axe
  • 42% with a mace or spear
  • 17% with a club
  • 8% with a fist.  
I'm a little worried about that last one, but otherwise it works for me.

That B/X Fighter has 40% chance to hit a leather-armoured foe.  A 1st level Slayer has
  • 42% with a sword
  • 28% with an axe or spear
  • 17% with a mace
  • 8% with a club
  • A lousy 3% with a fist (that is, only a roll of boxcars)
 OK, now I officially think I need to jigger with the unarmed modifiers.  Otherwise, I'm still fine.

Our increasingly-beset B/X Fighter has a 30% chance to hit a foe in mail.  Our Slayer has
  • 17% with a spear
  • 8% with an axe or mace
  • 3% with a sword or anything else.
Finally, a 1st level B/X Fighter has a 20% chance to hit a plate-clad foe.  The Slayer has a flat 3% with anything.

Now, let's do this all over.  But this time, our two warriors will have advanced to 7th level.  The 7th level Fighter has a 75% chance to hit an unarmoured foe.  The 7th level Slayer has the following:
  • 92% with a sword
  • 83% with an axe
  • 72% with a mace or spear
  • 42% with a club
  • 28% with a fist. 
BUT, the Slayer also gets 2 attacks every round to the Fighter's 1.  Unfortunately, I don't have the maths to figure out how that changes the odds.  If anyone does, I'd be grateful.

Now, the Fighter has a 65% against the leather-clad foe.  The Slayer (with his 2 attacks) has:
  • 72% with a sword
  • 58% with an axe or spear
  • 42% with a mace
  • 28% with a club
  • 8% with a fist
The Fighter 55% against mail.  The Slayer has:
  • 42% with a spear
  • 28% with an axe or mace
  • 17% with a sword
  • 8% with a club
  • 3% with a fist
Finally, the 7th level Fighter has 45% against plate armour.  The Slayer has:
  • 17% with a sword
  • 8% with a club
  • 3% for anything else.
Results: armour - particularly heavy armour - is way more useful in Dying Sun as written than in B/X and those calculations assumed that the foe did not use a shield.  Of course, armour is also way more expensive in Dying Sun.  Plate costs a measly 60 gp in B/X and is easily affordable to the 1st level Fighter, whereas a suit of Heavy armour made out of lacquered wood or Scorpion Man chitin costs 5 times that amount (300 coins) under the Dying Sun and represents a huge amount of wealth; steel plate costs 3,000 coins and represents thre income of a small city.  Only the richest can afford heavy armour.  Even measly light armour, which costs 20 gp in B/X costs 50 coin in Dying Sun.  And, on top of that, it is very hard to wear armour for protracted lengths of time under the Dying Sun.

Conclusions: I'm not yet sure.  I think I want to up the weapon modifier for fists against the lighter armour classes.  Otherwise, I think I'm pretty happy with it.

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